Saturday, November 07, 2009

Have We Been Stabbed In The Back By Larry Kissell?


Is Larry Kissell sending out résumés for a teaching job in 2011?

Thursday I started getting urgent e-mails from several friends on Capitol Hill. I would have rather heard from Blueberry Hill. Larry Kissell, a freshman Democrat from North Carolina, was making noises about killing the health care bill. Why would they be contacting me out in L.A.? Well, in 2006 Blue America raised $10,995 for him, and last year we raised him another $15,331. On top of that, the Blue America blogs promoted his candidacy relentlessly and gave him the idea that put him on the front pages, the gas station promotion in 2006, and spent around $50,000 in the last few days of the 2008 campaign on the TV ad below:

Yesterday James at BlueNC spoke for the entire blogosphere when he expressed his heartfelt remorse for having endorsed Kissell. Since getting into Congress, Kissell has not only swung way to the right of the promises he made during the campaign, but he has refused to engage with his former supporters. I haven't been able to get his office to return a call or e-mail in months. The last exchange was on August 18. I asked his chief of staff if he'd be interested in signing on to the Blue America effort we had put together to thank the members of Congress who were standing firm on the public option. As you can see at the link above, he never joined. He also never responded. The exchange:

On Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 1:59 PM, HowieKlein wrote:

I would love to add Larry to this list. We'll be pounding this across the blogosphere all week and we'll be re-setting the goal to $100,000. Any chance he wants to get onboard?

The response, in part:

"That is a great list of folks. I'm picking him up at the airport later this evening. I'll discuss it with him and get back with you. He supports public option."

He may have had some reservations, but despite the promise to get back with me, I never heard from him or his staff again, and eventually gave up e-mailing and calling. Until yesterday, when I called to see if I could get a clarification about his position on health care. Crickets. And today: more crickets.

Inside the caucus he doesn't have a reputation for being the sharpest tool in the drawer, and one of his brighter colleagues wondered aloud why he even wants to be a congressman-- "just to live in fear everyday? Is he that hard up for the paycheck?"

Kissell-- who unlike fellow freshmen Suzanne Kosmas (FL) and John Adler (NJ) , isn't corrupt and doesn't take piles of money from special interests-- is similar to some of his colleagues in another way. They're scared of Republicans, scared of teabaggers, scared of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh. These people smell their fear and come after people like Larry Kissell. "I have a lot of old people in my district," he whined. So? The AARP-- their own organization-- is backing the bill, even if Glenn Beck and Virginia Foxx aren't.

I'm afraid what Kissell has done was confuse himself about what happened in Virginia Tuesday. The conservative Democrat, Creigh Deeds, got up during a debate and said he would opt out of the public option if he were elected. The result wasn't to make Republicans-- the only ones who support that position-- vote for him. They voted for the Republican, of course. But what killed Deeds-- and what will kill Kissell and cowards like him-- is that Democrats get turned off by this kind of bullshit. Bush won NC-08 in 2000 and in 2004. But Obama beat McCain 53-47%-- considerably better than he did statewide. And Kissell beat the incumbent, Robin Hayes, 55-45%.

Next year, Kissell-- who has a reputation as an abysmal fundraiser, and won't get a dime from the netroots ever again-- is being challenged by retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston. Huddleston and GOP front groups will call Kissell a Nancy Pelosi clone no matter how he votes and no matter what he does. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh fans are not going to vote for Larry Kissell. And if he follows through with his threats to vote against health care reform, neither will Democrats, just the way they didn't come out to vote for Deeds in Virginia.

The Hill has a running whip count they keep updating. As you can see, Kissell isn't the only Democrat betraying his own constituents, although many of the others were bought off. Jim Himes (D-CT, $60,787), Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL, $55,516), John Adler (D-NJ, $50,967), Dan Maffei (D-NY, $46,587) and Walt Minnick (D-ID, $38,517) are the Democratic freshmen who took in the biggest contributions from the Insurance giants. Kosmas, Adler and Minnick have all come out against the kind of meaningful health care reform the K Street whores they throw down with oppose. We're eager to hear from Himes and Maffei, and I feel confident that both will put their constituents before their donors, the way non-Blue Dog Democrats are supposed to do.

UPDATE: Big Changes In The Hill Whip Count This Morning

Reactionary Pennsylvania Blue Dog Jason Altmire was bragging how a call from Obama didn't sway him and that he's still leaning "no" but that he won't announce a final vote before he casts it. Drama queen! Meanwhile a slew of other Democrats who were on the fence last night have come down on one side or the other. As we expected anti-choice progressives Marcy Kaptur (OH) and Jim Langevin (RI) are now leaning "yes." Conservative Dems Gerry Connolly (VA), Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA), Kathy Dahlkemper (Blue Dog-PA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), Gabby Giffords (Blue Dog-AZ), Earl Pomeroy (Blue Dog-ND) have all come on board.

On the "no" side, we now have Democrats who think the way to victory in 2010 is the Creigh Deeds route of alienating Democrats by trying to placate Republicans. I'll go out on a limb and predict defeats for the Dems who added themselves to the "No" list: Harry Teague (NM), Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Parker Griffith (Blue Dog-AL), Artur Davis (AL), and, tragically, Larry Kissell (NC), now in the firm no column.

Meanwhile the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops-- apparently happy that there will be an up or down vote that will, effectively, cut off access to legal abortion for anyone who can't pay in cash-- has endorsed the bill. That probably explains why Dahlkemper, Connolly and Kaptur came on board. I guess Michael MacMahon (Staten Island) still believes in the Creigh Deeds route more than the Jesus route.

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At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Sharonrb said...

Sounds like Peters may also vote no. Kissell may not have been the only mistake.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I'm hearing that Peters is still weighing his options but a pretty good source has told me that in the end he'll vote for the bill. I hope so, for his sake.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Bruce said...

Another case of Mr. Jive Ass Piece of Crap goes to Washington! White shirt and tie. White shirt and lie. Maybe Big Oil will give him a job pumping their gas after he gets the boot up his sad ass on election day.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Mauimom said...

I donated to Kissell through ActBlue, and of course I'm disappointed, but this health care bill is such a piece of crap that frankly I don't care if it goes down.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous WendyF said...

I voted for him once and regret it oh so much! I have spoken to his office twice to let them know I would not be voting for him again if he did not vote for the healthcare bill .... he shoulc be ashamed of himself!


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